Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blurring Curricular and Extra-Curricular

I moderate an extra-curricular activity - The M-Hub Project - which when fully realized will actually serve the curriculum.  The experience has caused me to think that traditionally curricular v. extra-curricular activities should be viewed as less distinct parts of an education that a chool provides. The girls in the project have learned a great deal about technology, problem solving, and collaborating with adults.  They have been called on to use creativity and leadership skills.  So the experience itself serves educational goals which might come out of a planned curriculum.

I'm even more delighted with the way I've nudged classroom experience into the extra-curricular realm of after school activities.  On April 13, my American Government students (along with students in two English classes) hope to create a "Fight Apathy Fair."  The students came up with the idea of a "science fair" style of activity.  But the teachers more or less mandated the event as an after school activity.  The students don't question it at all.  Very cool-- They see an out of classroom activity as a legitimate conclusion to a curricular assignment.

A pair of crucial after school activities has been initiated by my AP students.  They were required by their challenge to recruit a panel of outside experts who would evaluate their health care solutions.  This notion really threw the kids at first.  They were surprised that I would not be the ultimate evaluator of their proposals, and that I was giving no direction on the who, what, where when of the panel.  However, they ended up completely embracing the idea, and what is more, both teams have scheduled their panel reviews off-campus and after hours.  One group chose a library conference room and the other will meet at a parent's office.  The former chose a Thursday night and the latter a Sunday afternoon.

One of the great appeals to me about Challenge Based Learning is that the  "real world" actionable nature of the challenges creates the possibility that students involved in a classroom activity will achieve the same motivational levels that they have for extra-curricular activities.  Over the next three weeks I'll be able to observe if this has been the case for about seventy of my kids.
"Outside the Box Flickr CC Photo by ♥KatB

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